While we find no fault with the City Council’s decision roughly four months ago to not challenge a federal court’s ruling barring City Hall from enforcing a ban on C and D jets at Santa Monica Airport, the Daily Press is miffed that we had to find out about the decision this week from residents and not the powers that be, who have a duty and responsibility to keep the public informed, particularly on such a high-profile issue.
Not informing the public in a timely fashion raises questions about City Hall’s commitment to transparency. Granted, it is the media’s job to ask the right questions and follow up, but at no time when discussing other issues relating to the airport did any city official or council member let us know about this very important decision to not continue legal action after already spending more than $1.5 million, a decision that was made by the council behind closed doors.
We are concerned that the lack of notification is a violation of the Brown Act, which governs access to public meetings and requires notification orally or in writing within 24 hours of a vote or other action taken during closed session. The decision not to appeal seems like a reportable action to us. We checked the minutes from all council meetings in January and February and could not find such a report. City officials feel that since the court’s decision is public record, it was not necessary to “independently announce” that City Hall lost. While that may be true, with an issue as heated as airport operations, the public and the media should have been alerted.